Like all good things, it was time for our backpacking Europe trip to come to an end. After spending three days in Santorini, It was time to return to the base – India via Athens.
Return Flight to Athens from Santorini
After a short flight of 45 minutes from Santorini to Athens, we were received by sunny weather as we got out. This time around the transit process was smoother as we knew our way around. After all we were at the same airport few days back.
By the time we sat in the cab, we had spent close to 4 hours for a 45-minutes flight between waiting at Santorini Airport, flights gates to open after landing in Athens and collecting luggage from Conveyor belt which took just forever. We had reached Santorini Airport by 11 am and left from Athens Airport by 2.45 pm
Checking into Hotel Katerina
After checking into Hotel Katerina, we stepped out for lunch as we were very hungry. Hotel gave us a set of two adjoining rooms for 4 people. The biggest relief was two bathrooms.
The rooms were small but very well thought out. There was place for everything. Lighting was nicely done with a big mirror and plug points and other necessities.
Time for some Greek Lunch
After dropping the luggage, we went out for lunch at Kimbo. I had Greek Yoghurt with museli and fruits and a falafal baguette. Though yoghurt and museli is a breakfast meal but it looked nice and tempting so chose it over orange juice or coffee. The others had a potato baguette and chicken baguette sandwich.
The fourth girl decided to go to the Acropolis Museum as she had missed it last time. The museum had closed at 3.30pm that day being a Monday. But when she found out that its open till 10 pm on Fridays she skipped lunch, took a metro and went straight to museum by metro. It was 3 stations away from our hotel.
Exploring the city
After lunch, we walked around the market a bit, went into the nearby mall – Hondos Center.It had different floors for different categories- home, kids, men, women, kids,bags etc. it was a nice one stop shop for locals but didn’t find anything great to take back home. Still we took almost an hour to see the place.
Coffee time at Beneth
As we came out and were walking around we saw cafe Veneti/ beneth. It looked nice so we sat there for coffee. We ordered cappuccino, Americano, banoffee, chocolate croissant and hot chocolate.
Have to say everything was substandard. And the hot chocolate became a saga as first they said they don’t have hot chocolate and so got cold. When we refused, they heated the same thing and got it back. And there were multiple waiters coming and giving us excuses without talking among themselves. The only good thing was that they served water on table and that too free and had decent WC and for which we didn’t have to walk to the basement and punch in passwords or open locks like in Warsaw, Prague and Cesky Krumlov.
Back in Hotel
Then we decided to come back to hotel and spend some time there itself as there wasn’t much to see around. On the way back, we saw an Indian restaurant- Royal Spices just opposite our hotel. So, we went to check the menu and met Reshmi aka sultana there. She told us we will get anything we want in dinner. She will make for us.
Then we went into the hotel and enjoyed the city view from the room balcony and waited for the fourth girl to return. She cane back around 8.30 pm. After that we went for dinner. Since the fourth girl had already eaten, she decided to call it a day.
Time for Indian Dinner in Athens
As we reached the restaurant Royal Spices, there was police around and they told us to come back after 20 min.
We decided to take a walk around but there was lot of police around. So, we came back and sat at the restaurant a while later. The police had gone but here seemed to be some tension and they all looked harassed. Reshmi didn’t come out for a while. Another man took our order. We ordered tadke wali dal and rice, noodles and fish curry.The food was nice and spicy and very homely. It was a good meal.
After a good satisfying meal, we came to hotel, packed our stuff for Journey back home next day and went off to sleep.
First Breakfast Buffet of the Europe Trip
Next morning, we got up and sky looked nice in red and blue with some clouds. The sunrise happens late in Greece especially Athens. Even at 7.15 am, it seemed it wasn’t fully morning.
We had our first complimentary breakfast buffet of the backpacking trip, ironically on last day. Everywhere else wherever we had buffet included we either left early morning or reached later in the day. The spread was decent with breads, butter, jam, cheese, Nutella, tomatoes, cornflakes, fruits, cake slices, Danish pastry, juices, tea and coffee.
Time to return to the base
After the breakfast we left for airport for our return journey with Aeroflot, just like we started a month back. The cab had an open sun roof and this was supposed to be our last ride in Europe in luxury. The driver was an interesting man with a donkey sound as phone’s ring tone, broke speed limits and asked the friend sitting in front if she was married. After a while both of them were at loggerheads about who’s a better driver.
At the airport we tried doing a self-check-in but only two people were successful. When the check-in counters opened we found out we were standing in wrong line- baggage drop off, so had to go to regular check-in queue and it took us very long for checking in. It took us almost an hour for check-in and security check.
Return Journey Begins
In the plane we had once again scattered seats. – but after sometime, we managed to sit together as the flight wasn’t full. Then the food was served and we found that we ended up with more non-veg meals than veg so we all shared food plus the Flight attendants gave us some extra salads and breads. The wine served on flight wasn’t good.
The Adventures at Sheremetyevo Airport
As we landed at Sheremetyevo International Airport for changeover, we went in to passport control section for checking in for next flight. There was a big group of Japanese tourists and only one counter was operational. It took very long for our turn to come. And then as soon as our turn came, there were a few Japanese passengers who came running as their plane was about to take off and they hadn’t yet checked in. so we gave them way.
After the formalities, we went inside. It is a huge airport and our gate was quite far. For some reason, our flight’s gate details weren’t showing. So we confirmed and kept reconfirming. Even when our journey had begun a month back, we had done a break journey to Tallinn via the same airport.
As we passed the security check, there were lot of duty free shops and it seemed better than Athens duty free shops but there was no time for looking around. So, we went straight for boarding. The weather had become cold and windy in the bus.
India… see you soon!
Finally, we got into the flight and our seats were in twos. The seat between my friend and me was luckily empty. Wat a relief it was!
The staff in the flight seemed a little brash as when I rung the bell no one came. Later when someone asked for headphones, the hostess rudely told him everyone is waiting for them. the same thing could have been said politely.
Our Plane landed in India at 3.30 AM IST but it took another 20 minutes before deboarding started and then another one hour to get our passports stamped.
Finally,out of the airport with our luggage, we took separate cabs for home. I and another girl stayed close by so we shared a cab. As soon as our cab came and we saw it was a Maruti Wagon R, the reality hit us that we are back in India.
And we were back with a bang, already planning our next holiday.